Terry DeVine column: Pets meet on weekend social circuit

Stop by Fargo's PETCO store on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll find yourself smack dab in the middle of a regular social event for animals and their owners.

Stop by Fargo's PETCO store on a Friday or Saturday night and you'll find yourself smack dab in the middle of a regular social event for animals and their owners.

On a recent Saturday night, there was lots of sniffing and nuzzling going on as people walked their dogs and cats up and down well-stocked aisles on leashes. Some people carried their pets.

Birds were chirping, ferrets were playing in their cages and every so often a bark or two would erupt from one of the aisles.

We stopped by with our young grandson and his parents. He isn't yet 2 but he knows his way around the store and is particularly taken with the turtles. He made a beeline for their tank and let out a squeal of delight when he found them. Occasionally, the store's workers will let him sprinkle some turtle food in the tank.

Assistant Manager for Merchandising David Morse, who's been there since 1994, knows most of the regular customers by sight.


"But I know the names of their pets more than I know the names of their owners," said Morse. "There have been several dogs named Max, another one named T-Bone and a cat named Thunder. I know many, many others by name."

We ran into sisters Lonna and Laura Nybladh, who just happen to be the college-age daughters of Moorhead Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nybladh and his wife, Emily.

They were in the store with their parents' dachshund, Lina, who they were babysitting that night.

Laura also had her year-old Chihuahua, Spike, along.

Lonna carried Pookie, her 11-week-old bichon frise, a Christmas present from her parents. They were in the store looking for a chew toy for Pookie, who is teething, and Laura had Spike's nails trimmed.

"We've always had pets," they said. "We love to spoil them."

They said their father had a German short-haired pointer for 13 years when they were growing up, a great hunting dog.

"It was very traumatic for the whole family when that family pet died," they said. Both women graduated from Central Cass High School in Casselton, N.D. -- Laura in 2000 and Lonna in 2002. Their father was superintendent of schools in Casselton before taking the Moorhead job.


Both have Fargo apartments. Laura attends Northwest Technical College in Moorhead and Lonna attends Minnesota State University Moorhead.

The sisters said they're regular customers at PETCO, often stopping by to pick up one thing or another for their dogs.

Morse said it's good for animals to get out and socialize, especially during the winter months when everyone -- both animals and humans -- can get that cooped-up feeling.

"We have one lady who comes in at least once a week with her collie and walks around the store for an hour or two," said Morse. "That's just fine with us."

He said questions about cats and dogs are the ones most commonly fielded by employees, even though they don't sell either. They do much work with Adopt-A-Pet, however, said Morse.

All kinds of tours come through the store and they are encouraged, said Morse. Store managers appreciate it if tour groups call ahead so they can plan for them.

My grandson is a regular visitor. So are lots of other kids. It makes for exciting Saturday night fare.

Youngsters and animals just seem to go hand-in-hand.


Readers can reach Terry DeVine at (701) 241-5515 or

What To Read Next
Get Local